20 November 2013

Retailer Under the Spotlight - Cult Pens

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Cult Pens, a UK company that specialises in pens and writing instruments.

1. Where is Cult Pens based?

We are an on online shop, so Cult Pens lives in a cloud. Our representatives on Earth are based in Tiverton, in the rather beautiful county of Devon, in the UK. It’s a corner of the country best known as a holiday destination, which makes it a bit like living in Disneyland. There are no giant talking mice, though, unless we’ve been sniffing the permanent markers.

2. How long have they been in business?

The Cult Pens website was launched in May of 2005, so it’s over seven years old now.

3. What sort of things do you sell? Apart from pens... obviously?

Apart from pens? More pens! We have a huge range of pencils, too, both mechanical and wooden, and quite a few accessories. We have some really great ranges of notepads, notebooks and paper, along with rulers, drawing templates, lots of erasers, and glue.

One thing that sets us apart from most other pen shops is that we're just as interested in selling refills as pens. Many people come to us because they already have a pen they're very happy with, and are having trouble tracking down refills. If we stock the pen, we’ll always stock the refills if we can, in all the tip sizes and colours we can get, and we even stock refills for pens we don’t have. Even a lot of the pens people usually think of as disposable do have refills available, and using them is better for the environment and saves money.

4. Do you ever get any unusual requests... ones you can share with us.

We've been asked for pens to write on almost any surface you can imagine, and withstand all sorts of conditions. We had to suggest one customer speak to a professional when they wanted a pen they could use to restore a relative's gravestone, and we've seen cases where it was a problem that the marker ink changed colour when put in a furnace.

5. What are the most popular ranges? (Fountain pen, Gel Pens, Ballpoints etc)

That's a very difficult one for us to answer - variety is key for us! Every type of pen has its fans, and every pen is someone's favourite.

6. Do you support the notion that despite the increasing use of smart phones and tablets, the use of pen and paper is still strong? Why do you think that is?

People still find something very simple about pens and pencils, and they can be more tactile than a tablet. A pencil never makes you think about how to use it; so you can think about what you're doing, not what you're using to do it. Sometimes, we need to apply all of our brain to the task, not the tool.

Having said that, as an online retailer, we need the gadgets too. You can't order pens online using a pencil!

7. For our Filofax users what tips do you have with regards selecting pens and types of inks to use?

With all the tradition and tactility of a Filofax, the choice of pen has to be all about what feels right for each person. Some people love the flow of colourful ink from a fountain pen. Some love sharpening wooden pencils, while others find the quick click of a mechanical pencil more convenient. Love extra-fine, colourful lines? You can’t beat Pilot’s Hi-Tec-C. Want super-smooth, instant-drying, waterproof ink? Uni-ball’s Jetstream may be the perfect fit for you.

We love multipens for this sort of task - you can colour-code your notes and have different tip sizes in a single pen. Some people, though, simply want one pen that holds a lot of ink. We're all different, otherwise Filofax would only make the Personal-size Identity, and Philofaxy would be a dull place.

8. What is the best way of choosing fountain pen inks for particular brands of pens?

Generally, any fountain pen can be filled with any good quality fountain pen ink. There are manufacturers who recommend you use nothing but their own brand ink in their pens, but most fountain pen lovers cherish their inky choices, and some of the most popular inks come from manufacturers who don’t make pens at all. Diamine, right here in the UK, make some of the best fountain pen inks in the world, including our own Cult Pens Deep Dark inks. Picking from a selection of hundreds of ink types and colours is what separates us from the animals. If we only wanted black ink, we could have stayed in the ocean and borrowed some from a squid.

9. Are their differences in the formulations that make one ink more suited to a particular design of pen or not?

Almost all fountain pen inks are, essentially, coloured dye in water. The differences are relatively small, but those small differences are where many obsessions are born. Browsing the ink reviews on Fountain Pen Network should soon convince you that these small differences can be very important.

There are specific cases too, like Platinum’s Carbon Ink, which is waterproof pigment ink, and therefore needs special care to make sure it doesn't dry out in your pen. Platinum's Slip and Seal system, in their Century fountain pens, is a way around this. It uses a spring mechanism inside the cap to create a better seal over the nib, so the ink won't dry out, even if left unused for over a year.

Many calligraphy inks aren't safe to use in fountain pens at all, and can only be used with dip pens.

10. A lot of us use erasable ink pens (Frixion etc) in our organisers. What do you think will be the next exciting development in pen/ink design.

If we knew that, we wouldn't tell you until the patent had been granted!

The Frixion has been a huge step forward for erasable ink, taking it from being something you'd only use if you really needed it, to a perfectly nice thing to use all the time.

One of the interesting changes we're seeing at the moment is that the exciting stuff often happens outside the big brands. We've seen many really interesting new products and designs on sites like Kickstarter, where ordinary people fund the development of a new idea, helping to turn a design into a product.

What other information that you think will be of interest to our readers.

We add new offers and new products all the time, and you can keep up to date with these by following us on Twitter or Facebook, or checking on our What’s New and Special Offers pages.

But those things are available to everybody! You’re special people at Philofaxy, so you deserve your own special offer. So, for you, there's 10% off everything until the end of 2013, at Cultpens.com  when you enter the following coupon code: FAXY2013

Thank you also for the promotion code, I'm sure some of us will be using that especially in the run up to Christmas!

Thank you Cult Pens for answering all of our questions, I'm sure we might think of some more to ask... 


  1. My favourite pen retailer!! Your customer service is second to none, postage so swift and I love the little free gift you pop into the bag each time!! Thank you for those. Just a question... the palest pastel highlighters were mentioned on a blog post here on Philofaxy a while back. Can't remember their name unfortunately, but think they were Japanese and available in the USA on the Cult Pens site. Postage from the USA unfortunately is huge. Any similar highlighters coming to Cult pens as a pale highlighter looks so much more elegant? Squealed with delight when I saw your coupon code..... Coletto refill order coming on up soon!!! Thank you for this great post.... I think you are the bees knees and cats whiskers as pen retailers. xx

    1. Hi Butanben,

      Could it be the Pilot Frixion Light pens you're looking for? If so, we have some of the colours: http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Pilot-Frixion-Erasable-Highlighter.html

      There are other colours available in Japan, so we'll keep them in mind for the future. If that wasn't it, let us know if you can remember anything else about them, and we'll try to track them down.

  2. I love it when retailers don't take themselves seriously, but are very serious about customer satisfaction........guess where I'm heading

  3. I too have used Cult Pens and was very impressed with their service...am gathering my next list together :)

  4. Tipping down with rain and really windy outside. Dog going loopy because he wants to go for a walk (but hates the rain - what does he expect me to do?). Spent the last hour playing with him and he settled for a while. So what do I do? Cult pens via philofaxy. Like I need more pens.

  5. I agree with Butanben as they're my favourite pen retailer as well!
    Excellent customer service & lovely people there. They have kindly provided me with some fountain pens to review & give away, coming up shortly on my blog :)

  6. Cult Pens are wonderful - very quick dispatch of goods, and their customer service is excellent. I spend hours browsing their website and drooling over posh fountain pens that I can't afford until the lottery win comes!

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  9. I love Cult Pens - the shipping is superfast and they can find refills that no one else can!

  10. Just want to verify that you do ship to the US?

  11. One thing that really embarrasses me about my love of all things filofax/planner related, is pens. I LOVE pens, I love fountain pens (we have several), I love frixion pens, I love several roller ball brands as well as everything to do with mechanical pencils... And what do i use in my filofax? One of these: http://is.gd/v1vyqk

    Any time I try and use a nicer pen, I don't like the effect!! I'll use the nicer pens for taking notes, writing my work to do lists (in my big A4 hardback work notebook), postcards, etc, etc. But apparently for my filofax it has to be a Bic Crystal. The shame!!

  12. I've used Cult Pens for ages because of their great range and outstanding service. I'm always buying pens with purple or pink ink and the gift they drop in the bag is usually purple or pink as well. Very thoughtful.